Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open.
The tennis clay court season continues this week, as the world of tennis descends upon the Spanish capital. The Mutua Madrid Open is among the biggest events in the world every year with a joint ATP World Tour/WTA Tour venture, and this year it’s no different. This year, there are a few big names missing on both sides, but by and large the draws are loaded.
Our series of tournament previews continues this week for the Mutua Madrid Open. We have no idea who might win, but that has never stopped us before.
If Serena Williams intends to keep her strong 2015 season going, she will certainly have to earn it.
The best player on Tour enters as the favourite, but she gets a much tougher main draw than she might otherwise deserve—though, of course, deserving something means nothing. Though she is in Spain, Williams will likely feel right at home, with potentially three matches against fellow Americans just to reach the quarterfinals. Waiting, and getting defeated, will be Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
The second quarter is full of players who either 1) don’t quite excel on clay or 2) are slumping. The section is wide open, so let’s have a quarterfinal prediction that reflects this.
The same thing could be said about the third quarter, which includes two qualifiers and three wild-card entries, except that there are three pretty large tenors as well. Agnieszka Radwanska has already played in 8 tournaments in 2015, but her results have been extremely poor: only three times has she won at least two matches at a same tournament. Maybe her turnaround can start this week.
The big winner, on paper, is the second-seeded Simona Halep, who gets a draw with very few potential stumbling blocks. Joining her in the quarterfinals will be the other big winner from this final section, American Madison Keys, but only if she can navigate a tricky match against Angelique Kerber in the second round.
Quarterfinals: Serena Williams over Carla Suarez Navarro; Andrea Petkovic over Sara Errani; Maria Sharapova over Agnieszka Radwanska; Simona Halep over Madison Keys
Semifinals: Serena Williams over Andrea Petkovic; Simona Halep over Maria Sharapova
Final: Serena Williams over Simona Halep
With the absence of Novak Djokovic, the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open is suddenly wide open; we expect (relative) chaos and the unknown to prevail.
Roger Federer isn’t quite the beast on clay that he was once upon a time, but he is still among the best. He will compete in Madrid to avenge a difficult Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and to perfect his preparation for the French Open. After a potential tricky match against Nick Kyrgios, it should be smooth sailing until the quarterfinals against Tomas Berdych for King Roger.
Rafael Nadal is back on the ATP World Tour, but will this be the week that he finally, you know, is back? The Spaniard hasn’t been up to his standards in 2015 and, though he deserves some kind of benefit of the doubt, we’re probably at the point where he shouldn’t be considered the de facto favourite for Roland Garros. A good showing in his home tournament would go a long way toward helping him regain his confidence.
The third section of the main draw is the hometown draw, with no fewer than five Spaniards. Among them? David Ferrer, of whom we like to say that he is the man who simply never loses before, or wins after, the quarterfinals of tournaments…And yet, we see Ferrer bowing down relatively early, a round earlier than usual, against Fernando Verdasco. But Kei Nishikori stands alone in this draw.
Andy Murray hasn’t played in about five weeks and we’ll be curious to see what the birth of a new royal baby will have on his game. We know that the Scot had been beaming with anticipation and that he had managed to master his emotions in 2015, with excellent results at the Australian Open, the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open. Alas, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge still haven’t announced the name of their new baby girl and we suspect this might hurt Murray’s chances in Madrid. In his place in the quarterfinals against the Canadian Milos Raonic, count on the Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Quarterfinals: Roger Federer over Tomas Berdych; Rafael Nadal over Fabio Fognini; Kei Nishikori over Fernando Verdasco; Milos Raonic over Gael Monfils
Semifinals: Rafael Nadal over Roger Federer; Kei Nishikori over Milos Raonic
Final: Kei Nishikori over Rafael Nadal
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG